I Tried Time Blocking For A Week, And Here's What I Learned
The day I get a planner for the new year and can sit down at my desk to time block feels like a second Christmas! I love the organized chaos of having a bunch of different colors and scribbles that work together to keep you on top of everything going on in your life. I worked with time blocking in college to help me remember which class happened when, but this week I decided to go all-in with writing down every minute of my week. The end of my 2021 felt stressful and out of control, and I hoped having a better idea of what I needed to do would benefit me (and the people around me). Here's how I personally approached time blocking, the products I used, and what I learned so that you can try it too!
If you're not familiar with time blocking, it's essentially writing down every single plan you have for the week. However, instead of a list format, you use (you guessed it) blocks. From work to meals to any free time you want to devote to your passion project, it all goes on the page. That way, you know what is happening at any given moment of your day *and* you have some guidelines instead of just going about your day hoping you remember to get everything done.
The only thing you need to start time blocking is supplies! A planner, some pens, highlighters, markers, and stickers are my favorite ways to personalize my planner. I ended up grabbing one of the last of this particular planner but I linked another one below!
The first thing I noticed after I blocked off all of my commitments was that I probably should have used a ruler because none of the lines look straight to me. Oops.
But another thing that would have helped me was writing in the hour numbers before drawing the lines. That way the commitments would be divided evenly instead of just guessing at where the correct hours fall on the page. Plus, that might have eliminated some of the empty spaces. But hey, this doesn't have to be perfect :) If you want a more streamlined look, you can always go with an hourly planner that already includes hourly organization, like theDay Designer or theErin Condren planner in the hourly layout.
Color coding is my favorite way to organize anything because I'm a visual person so even from a distance, I can separate things based on their color. (Pro tip for any students out there: I edited my essays by color coding the themes and then grouping paragraphs by color!).
It was nice to not have to remember everything in my head because it was written down in the planner. Although once I had work and my other weekly commitments on the page, it did take me a bit to remember what fills up my free time. And I had to block off time for my favorite pastimes: reading and Netflix!!
I learned a few things from doing this throughout the week. I've never considered myself a spontaneous person but sticking to the time blocking I had laid out was harder than I anticipated. Last-minute plans with a friend replaced a phone call, which knocked around my reading schedule. Those aren't bad changes, and time blocking shouldn't feel like a restriction, but having something written down that wasn't accurate anymore felt kind of pointless if I'm being honest.
Another thing I realized was that once I had blocked off all of my time, there was no room left to make my usual bulleted list of tasks for each day. I ended up just using the empty space within the 'work' block to scribble notes.
I did enjoy having things that I personally need, like self-care or alone time, scheduled. They felt more official and non-negotiable that way. It's so easy to convince yourself that you should be spending that time on something "productive," but taking care of yourself is productive! I need to do a better job of intentionally taking care of myself and this definitely helped with that.
I'll keep time blocking for work and all those weekly commitments, but I might leave free-time activities off the list to give them a bit more flexibility.
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B+C Editorial Assistant, Swiftie | Chloe is from the Outer Banks (yes, like the Netflix show!). When she isn't writing or updating her blog Pastels and Pop Culture, Chloe enjoys watching Marvel movies or texting her sister about the latest celebrity news. Say hi at @thechloewilliams on Insta and @popculturechlo on Twitter!